Professor Benjamin Taylor Wins L.A. Times Book Award for New Memoir

May 8, 2018

Headshot of Ben TaylorAdjunct Associate Professor Benjamin Taylor has received a prestigious L.A. Times Book Award, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose.


This award, which was introduced last year, “honors exceptional work that is personal and acutely observant” in fiction, travel writing, memoir and diary.


Taylor was recognized for his memoir, The Hue and Cry at Our House: A Year Remembered. The book traces the tumultuous year after an 11-year-old Taylor met John F. Kennedy in Fort Worth, Texas – just hours before the president was shot.


"The Hue and Cry is more than a memoir: It's a clear-eyed history, a cultural reflection, an elegy for youth and time itself — accomplished with subtlety, humor and grace," said Dinah Lenney, one of the five judges on the panel.


Hue and Cry book coverThe book was also named a New York Times Editor’s Choice when it was released by Penguin Random House in May 2017.


Taylor, who is the author of two award-winning novels, Tales Out of School and The Book of Getting Even, said the award was a welcome surprise.


“The award was a bolt from the blue,” he wrote in an email. “Writing that book, I wondered if it could even be published, much less win a prize. And what could be lovelier than a prize named for the great Christopher Isherwood?”


The L.A. Times notes that Taylor’s memoir “is rich with the details of his particular childhood, growing up gay and Jewish in Texas, but girded by place and time, and deference to time's echo and elasticity.”


He was presented with the Isherwood Prize, named for the English-American novelist and playwright, at the L.A. Times Book Prizes April 20.


The Book Prizes recognize 51 works in 11 categories: autobiographical prose (the Christopher Isherwood Prize), biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction (the Art Seidenbaum Award), graphic novel/comics, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult literature.